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Designing a Dream House – Elementary Style!

Here is a perfect challenge to practice using area and perimeter in a design project. Design your Dream House!

What a perfect idea this little project is! I still remember designing my dream house when I was a little girl. I filled notebooks with drawings of the rooms and where the furniture would be. I colored the walls all different colors (because this was way before the monochromatic neutral palettes that are popular today).  

One of my favorite memories was painting and decorating the bathroom in the first apartment my husband and I lived in. It had a claw foot tub- I mean a real one, antique and everything.   

So, I knew I would love this STEM Challenge! What about the students?

STEM Challenge- this easy prep activity features designing a dream house. Students must also calculate the area and perimeter of each room in the house. The final square footage of the house will determine its value as students calculate the price of their dream!

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I know you are wondering how on earth students will design their dream house and you will be so surprised! It’s a paper/pencil activity. All you need is graph paper, markers, and the requirement sheet.

The Basics of Designing a Dream House

  • Practice finding the area of shapes.
  • Draw the room dimensions.
  • Have a little fun with crazy over-the-top rooms.
  • Calculate the total area of the house.
  • Determine the cost of the house!

Practice Area and Perimeter Before Designing the Dream House

STEM Project - this easy prep activity features designing a dream house. Students must also calculate the area and perimeter of each room in the house. The final square footage of the house will determine its value as students calculate the price of their dream!

Let’s be honest- this is a tricky skill. Students struggle with remembering the difference between area and perimeter and how to find both measurements.   

Let me show you a fantastic way to practice this skill.   You need some blue painter’s tape!

Place the tape in various shapes using the tiles on your floor as a guide. I always include squares, rectangles, and some odd shapes like the one in the photo.  

To teach students how to find the perimeter I sit on the floor and show them that the side of one floor tile is one measure. Then I walk around on the blue tape and count off each measure. That’s the perimeter. I also leave a pencil on the spot I started on so I will know where to stop. Ha!  

After they practice a few of these we practice finding the area.

For this, I walk across the shape and step on each square. The number I end up with is the area of the shape. And we use the number SQUARED! They totally get this because we are stepping on squares!  

This is a wonderful way for students to see the perimeter visually. Perimeter is the edge- the blue tape. And the area is inside the tape – all the inside squares.  

I hand them some graph paper and students walk to each shape I have created, draw it, and then count the perimeter measurement and the area measurement.

They have fun doing this and can we talk about how “hands-on” this is! It’s great practice for getting ready for this challenge.

Designing the Dream House

Students have graph paper and a list of requirements. Their dream house must have certain rooms. After they draw the required rooms they are free to add their own options.

I added the required rooms after trying this challenge with a test group. I found that most of the students drew elaborate rooms, like basketball courts and donut shops but somehow did not have a kitchen.

I guess they could just always eat donuts!

STEM Activity- this easy prep project features designing a dream house. Students must also calculate the area and perimeter of each room in the house. The final square footage of the house will determine its value as students calculate the price of their dream!

Adding Elaborate Rooms to the Dream House

STEM Challenge- this easy prep project features designing a dream house. Students must also calculate the area and perimeter of each room in the house. The final square footage of the house will determine its value as students calculate the price of their dream!

With any space they have leftover, students are free to add their own ideas for rooms. It only takes one person to announce they are having an indoor pool and the students take off with this idea. Soon there are libraries, gyms, water slides, and movie theaters.

You can see some of the additions this student had and you can also see that he is working on the room dimensions on his requirement sheet.

This is where the learning starts! 

Calculating the Area of the Dream House

For each room in the house, students must list its area. They must write the dimensions and then the area in square units.

You can see in the photo that this house had 718 square units.   And now, it gets eye-opening! Students multiply their square units by a dollar amount to find the total cost of this dream home. They will gasp when they see that their house will cost more than $150,000! (Which is relatively not much in today’s world!)

STEM Challenge- this easy prep STEM challenge features designing a dream house. Students must also calculate the area and perimeter of each room in the house. The final square footage of the house will determine its value as students calculate the price of their dream!

Of course, it is at this point that I also bring in a talk about the size of the units on their paper. If each of the squares on their grid sheet is a one-foot square then the home they are dreaming of will fit inside our classroom. They have the dimensions of a tiny, tiny home. 

This is just a super little challenge and brings up many discussions. What size could the units be to have a normal-sized home? Square yards, maybe?

Click on any image to grab this challenge in my store!

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STEM Challenge- this easy prep project features designing a dream house. Students must also calculate the area and perimeter of each room in the house. The final square footage of the house will determine its value as students calculate the price of their dream!

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